Jaw Pain (TMJ)

TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint, and refers to the jaw joint which is located near the ear. TMJ pain gets worse around times of stress when there is more tendency to clench and grind, and may be more noticeable first thing in the morning.

TMJ pain may be caused by trauma or a bad bite. These place strain on the joint and creates muscle tension and pain. Clenching and grinding makes the problem worse.

Symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Jaw joint clicking or popping
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Chewing discomfort
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Cracked or worn teeth
  • Neck pain
  • Migraines
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Earache or ear congestion
  • Sinus like symptoms
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Ringing in ears or tinnitus
  • Nervousness or insomnia

What You Can Do On Your Own:

  • Adopt a soft diet and no gum chewing.
  • Take 600-800 mg ibuprofen every 6 hours to alleviate pain and decrease inflammation
  • Sleep on your back. (Other positions place excess stress on the jaw joint)
  • Place moist heat, like a warm wash cloth, over the jaw area
  • Do jaw exercises to strengthen the joint
  • Give it about a month to get better on its own unless the pain can’t be managed

 

TMJ Splint Therapy

Patients who experience some of the above symptoms that are not getting better should come in for an exam.  Initially, a bite splint is made to separate the teeth and allow the joints to align into their natural position to relax the muscles.  Several adjustments to the splint may be necessary to allow the muscles to relax and to relieve the symptoms.  After splint therapy is completed, the bite may need to be adjusted or restored to this relaxed joint position.  Some cases require that physical therapy be done in conjunction with splint therapy.  Serious cases may require referral to a TMJ specialist.